Lead Review

  • Book: Murder on the Downs
  • Location: Whitstable
  • Author: Julie Wassmer

Review Author: tripfiction

Location

Content

Read Julie Wassmer’s latest outing for private detective and restaurant owner Pearl Nolan, and you’ll conjure up an image of Kent’s coastal town of Whitstable being as violent as The Bronx. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In Murder on the Downs, Pearl is stuck between a rock and a hard place. A new property development is on the cards, encroaching upon the green open space of the Downs, a favourite spot for local residents. Soon, Pearl’s son Charlie and her Mum are joining the protest camp, led by force-of-nature environmentalist Martha Laker. But the developers are trying to persuade Pearl to be their mole in the community, putting her in a difficult position with everyone, including on-off boyfriend DCI Mike McGuire of the Canterbury Police.

Tensions escalate, and then the body count starts to rise….

Julie Wassmer has crafted another cosy murder mystery, set in this atmospheric Kent location where she has lived for 20 years. Along with regulars Pearl, Charlie, her Mum and DCI McGuire, we’re introduced to a host of colourful characters on both sides of the argument, at the same time as she deftly airs the real-life conflict of over-development versus opportunities for new homeowners.

‘A tried and tested crime recipe with Whitstable flavours‘ says the Daily Mail. ‘While Oxford has Morse, Whitstable, famous for its oysters, has Pearl.’

Julie has found a successful formula. Her Pearl mysteries are fun and well-crafted, as you’d expect from a professional TV drama writer who worked on Eastenders for almost 20 years. And for lovers of TripFiction, there’s the integral pleasure of the author’s passion for a sense of place:
I love the idea of location becoming almost another character in a novel, and I’m lucky to be able to feature not only a seaside location here in Whitstable, but also beautiful local countryside and the great city of Canterbury just a few miles away.‘

‘I know many readers will never be able to visit Whitstable in person, but I hope reading my books will allow them to feel they can still enjoy a welcome break here on our mysterious coast…‘

The very definition of TripFiction! And for this reader, who spent many of his formative years living in the area, the enjoyment of reading Murder on the Downs was as much about a nostalgic trip back to the region, as it was the story. My heart lifted when one of Julie’s characters ventured somewhere I knew as well as Pearl a lifetime ago. Tankerton, Whitstable, Canterbury, Chestfield, ‘the dual carriageway known locally as the Old Thanet Way‘, Borstal Hill, ‘the Old Neptune – the white clapboard pub that stood on Whitstable beach itself.’

Such happy memories from nigh on 50 years ago…and without all that murder and over-development.

And also looking forward to Murder on the Downs being our TripFiction Book Club read for July & August 2020!

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